Washington Emigration and Immigration

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Beginning Research
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How to Find the Records[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Cultural Groups[edit | edit source]

Passport Records Online[edit | edit source]

Offices to Contact[edit | edit source]

Although many records are included in the online records listed above, there are other records available through these archives and offices. For example, there are many minor ports that have not yet been digitized. There are also records for more recent time periods. For privacy reasons, some records can only be accessed after providing proof that your ancestor is now deceased.

National Archives and Records Administration[edit | edit source]

  • You may do research in immigration records in person at the National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001.
Washington Ports in NARA Records[edit | edit source]

See also Saint Albans, Vermont, 1895-1954: Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian, Pacific, and Atlantic Ports, 1895--1954


U.S. Citizenship and and Immigration Services Genealogy Program[edit | edit source]

The USCIS Genealogy Program is a fee-for-service program that provides researchers with timely access to historical immigration and naturalization records of deceased immigrants. If the immigrant was born less than 100 years ago, you will also need to provide proof of his/her death.

Immigration Records Available[edit | edit source]
  • A-Files: Immigrant Files, (A-Files) are the individual alien case files, which became the official file for all immigration records created or consolidated since April 1, 1944.
  • Alien Registration Forms (AR-2s): Alien Registration Forms (Form AR-2) are copies of approximately 5.5 million Alien Registration Forms completed by all aliens age 14 and older, residing in or entering the United States between August 1, 1940 and March 31, 1944.
  • Registry Files: Registry Files are records, which document the creation of immigrant arrival records for persons who entered the United States prior to July 1, 1924, and for whom no arrival record could later be found.
  • Visa Files: Visa Files are original arrival records of immigrants admitted for permanent residence under provisions of the Immigration Act of 1924.[1]
Requesting a Record[edit | edit source]

Oregon-California Trails Association[edit | edit source]

Oregon-California Trails Association is an educational organization that promotes the story of the westward migration to Oregon, among other places. Their site includes a personal name index to trail diaries, journals, reminiscences, autobiographies, newspaper articles, guidebooks and letters at A Guide to Overland Pioneer Names and Documents.

  • Search the Paper Trail Database Initial searches are FREE! You can go to the "Search" tab now to begin. These free searches will tell you if a name or document is in the database. It will give you the origin and year of the journey, how the person was mentioned, the name of the party, and the name and author of the document described. Subscriptions give you more complete information including a scan of the original survey. This lists the route taken, ages, and other notes about the document. But most importantly, you will have access to the location of known copies of the original document.


Finding Town of Origin[edit | edit source]

Records in the countries emigrated from are kept on the local level. You must first identify the name of the town where your ancestors lived to access those records. If you do not yet know the name of the town of your ancestor's birth, there are well-known strategies for a thorough hunt for it.

Background[edit | edit source]

  • In the early 1800s, traders and trappers came from Canada, Russia, Latin America, and the United States into what is now Oregon Territory.
  • In 1843, more than 900 emigrants came to Washington from Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa.
  • In the 1850s, gold was discovered in eastern Washington and prospectors flocked in.
  • n 1860, gold was found near Walla Walla, and this brought another rush of prospectors, including large numbers of Chinese.
  • After 1870. immigrants came from Germany, Scandinavia (especially Norway and Sweden), Holland, Britain, and the Philippines.
  • Many Japanese immigrated to Washington starting in the mid-1880s.
  • The greatest influx of settlers started in the 1880s, when transport by rail became possible. The first of three transcontinental railroads to Washington was completed in 1888. Most of the settlers of the 1880s and 1890s were from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and other western, midwestern, and eastern states. Others came from Canada and Europe.

Immigration Records[edit | edit source]

Immigration refers to people coming into a country. Emigration refers to people leaving a country to go to another. Immigration records usually take the form of ship's passenger lists collected at the port of entry. See Online Resources.

What can I find in them?[edit | edit source]

Information in Passenger Lists[edit | edit source]

  • Before 1820 - Passenger lists before 1820 included name, departure information and arrival details. The names of wives and children were often not included.
  • 1820-1891 - Customs Passenger Lists between 1820 and 1891 asked for each immigrant’s name, their age, their sex, their occupation, and their country of origin, but not the city or town of origin.
  • 1891-1954 - Information given on passenger lists from 1891 to 1954 included:
    • name, age, sex,
    • nationality, occupation, marital status,
    • last residence, final destination in the U.S.,
    • whether they had been to the U.S. before (and if so, when, where and how long),
    • if joining a relative, who this person was, where they lived, and their relationship,
    • whether able to read and write,
    • whether in possession of a train ticket to their final destination, who paid for the passage,
    • amount of money the immigrant had in their possession,
    • whether the passenger had ever been in prison, a poorhouse, or in an institution for the insane,
    • whether the passenger was a polygamist,
    • and immigrant's state of health.
  • 1906-- - In 1906, the physical description and place of birth were included, and a year later, the name and address of the passenger’s closest living relative in the country of origin was included.

Information in Passports[edit | edit source]

Over the years, passports and passport applications contained different amounts of information about the passport applicant. The first passports that are available begin in 1795. These usually contained the individual's name, description of individual, and age. More information was required on later passport applications, such as:

  • Birthplace
  • Birth date
  • Naturalization information
  • Arrival information, if foreign born

In-country Migration[edit | edit source]

Washington Migration Routes[edit | edit source]

Columbia River · Snake River · Oregon Trail · Great Northern Railway (U.S.) · Northern Pacific Railroad

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

The FamilySearch Library has additional sources listed in their catalog:

  1. "Genealogy", at USCIS, https://www.uscis.gov/records/genealogy, accessed 26 March 2021.